Poetry News

Chet Baker album with Norwegian poet Jan Erik Vold gets a proper release

By Harriet Staff

eJazzNews reports that one of the last recordings of Chet Baker's career, Telemark Blue was also his first jazz-and-poetry album. Recorded with the Norwegian poet Jan Erik Vold in 1988 three months before Baker's death, the album will finally see a proper international release on Norway's Hot Club Records. Vold himself worked with many jazz musicians throughout his career (before he was a widely published poet and translator, he was a jazz journalist), and the collaboration with Baker was his initiative.

As a jazz & poetry performer, Jan Erik Vold has been constantly active for more than forty years, since his first album Briskeby Blues was produced. With Jan Garbarek he made three albums 1969--1977, and with Egil Kapstad eight albums 1986--2008. Love, Rain (1974) is a radio play based on the poetry of Robert Creeley. Rainy Day Women (1977) is a translation of 70 Bob Dylan songs, which resulted in the Dylan song album Stones. Rains (1981), in cooperation with blues guitarist Kåre Virud. The Day Lady Died (1986) is an album featuring the poems of Frank O’Hara. Storytellers (1998) brings international poetry by Rimbaud, D. H. Lawrence, Paul Celan, Ekelöf, Szymborska. Enclosed is Jan Erik Vold's liner notes on Chet Baker.

The final product was the result of Baker, Vold, guitarist Philip Catherine, and Norwegian session musicians. Despite their varied backgrounds and the poems' performance being entirely in Vold's native Nowegian, the process was smooth and the album has become "the holy grail of Chet Baker albums" over the years-- even though its original title referred to the search for a blue goat.

The original title of the album was BLÅMANN! BLÅMANN!, which refers to a beloved Norwegian folk tune about a young boy’s search for his blue-shagged goat (blåmann=blue body), lost in the hills of Telemark. In Norway, this has been a best-selling album for more that twenty years. The English version of the poems, translated by the poet, was read and edited 2009 in Rainbow Studio, Oslo.

Chet Baker was very happy about the recording sessions in Paris. He wrote to producer Jon Larsen: "Had a great a time, thank’s so much". To the Norwegian poet: "We must do this again soon". Of the possibility of translating the poems: Of course, that would give you a much larger audience."

Originally Published: December 13th, 2010